Aerospace Engineering Certificate

Aerospace Engineering is the discipline concerned with the conceptualization, design, analysis and performance of aerospace systems for commercial, military, and recreational applications. Such systems encompass commercial and military aircraft and helicopters, rockets, satellites, space vehicles, remotely piloted drones, and general aviation and sport aircraft and gliders. The aerospace industry is one of the centerpieces of American excellence in high technology. The development and refinement of flight vehicles is a technology that has substantially transformed the modern world. In today's aerospace industry, which has highly interdisciplinary technological needs, the cohort of engineers represent a variety of disciplines, with engineers with actual aerospace degrees being a relatively small fraction in comparison to mechanical engineers.

The Aerospace Certificate Program at Duke offers a rigorous and in depth exposure to scientific and engineering fundamentals in the broad set of core disciplines required in the aerospace field. In this respect, the Duke Aerospace Certificate program is more attuned to modern needs than many traditional programs offering an aerospace engineering degree. Nevertheless, the program courses dealing specifically with flight vehicle applications are taught by faculty who are actively involved in cutting edge aerospace research, and who rank among the country's most accomplished aerospace engineers. A number of graduates of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering go onto aerospace careers, either directly entering the aerospace industry and government work force, or after attaining advanced graduate degrees in the field.

Check out the AIAA Duke Student Chapter

Research Focus

The Aerospace Engineering Certificate provides undergraduate students with an understanding of fundamental principles in the several disciplines including fluid mechanics and aerodynamics, dynamics and control, structures and materials, thermodynamics and propulsion, plus specific courses that address specific aerospace technologies for flight and space vehicles. In addition to coursework, the program offers upperclassmen opportunities for independent research for academic credit under the supervision of a faculty member affiliated with the program, either through ME198 Independent Projects or through the Pratt Fellows Program.

Beyond the Classroom

Students are encouraged to participate in the local student chapters of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) which include meetings with outside speakers, field trips, and social events. Students are also encouraged broaden their exposure by attending the aerospace related seminars given by faculty, visiting professionals and graduate students.


All engineering undergraduates are eligible to participate in the program and qualify for certification. Although MEMS is the host department, there is a concerted effort to engage students from other departments, and to provide flexibility to help majors in other departments meet the program standards while maintaining program focus and quality. Each upper class mechanical engineering student in the Aerospace Certificate Program has the option of being assigned an academic advisor who is affiliated with the program. Successful completion of the Aerospace Certificate Program is noted on the student's academic transcript.

Certificate Requirements

Seven Courses must be completed to earn Aerospace Engineering Certificate. The certificate program focuses on upper class courses.

Fundamental mechanical engineering courses: Select two courses. (Note: two courses are already required for ME major; substitutions are possible for non ME students.)

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Control Systems
  • Heat and Mass Transfer

Foundation Course (centerpiece course)

  • Aircraft Performance and Design

Core Aerospace Electives

Choose one (restricted list):

  • Aerodynamics
  • Compressible Fluid Flow
  • Aerospace Structures

Supporting Engineering Electives

Choose two electives from the list below or from the Core Aerospsace Electives List.

  • Graduation with Departmental Distinction Independent Project (If project is aerospace related, it can be used for Graduation with Departmental Distinction).
  • Independent Project (If Aerospace related, independent project numbers from other Pratt departments are permitted.)
  • Pratt Fellows Independent Study (If Aerospace related; Pratt Fellows from other departments are permitted.)
  • Introduction to Vibrations
  • Special Topics Coures related to Aerospace Engineering. Special Topics Courses from other Pratt departments are permissible given appropriate content.
  • Intermediate Dynamics
  • Modern Control and Dynamic Systems
  • Advanced Mechanical Vibrations
  • Engineering Acoustics
  • Finite Element Method
  • Introduction to Robots and Automation
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Mathematical Fluid Dynamics

Other upper class and graduate level courses in related areas such as control, robotics, and structures are also permissible subject to approval of the aerospace certificate program coordinator. New courses may also be created in the future. For instance, the courses in aerospace structures and aerospace vehicle stability and control are under development.

Arts and Sciences Course

Select one course offered by Trinity College of Arts and Sciences in one of the following areas:

  • History (if applicable to the role of technology and 
  • science);
  • Public Policy (if applicable to the use and impact of technology); or
  • Economics (if applicable to large or international corporate structures).

Courses are to be approved by the certificate coordinator; other course options will be considered on an individual basis with consideration given to the relevance to the field.


Don Bliss
Aerospace Certificate Program Coordinator
Duke MEMS Director of Undergraduate Studies
(919) 660-5315